Compliance for registered journalism organizations
Registered journalism organizations (RJO) have certain obligations as qualified donees under the Income Tax Act (ITA). The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) monitors the operations of RJOs to make sure they meet these obligations.
An RJO's obligations include:
- ensuring that it continues to meet the eligibility criteria for registration
- filing an annual information return, within six months after its fiscal period end
- keeping books and records that demonstrate that it continues to meet the requirements under the ITA, and providing these to the CRA on request
- ensuring that official donation receipts it issues meet the requirements of the ITA
- ensuring that it does not serve as a conduit by accepting a gift with the condition that it makes a gift to another person or entity
Audits help us maintain public confidence in the fairness and integrity of the registration system and are a key part of the compliance program.
While we generally approach compliance through education first, the measures we apply usually depend on the severity of the non-compliance.
If an audit raises concerns, we will use one or more of the following compliance measures:
- Education letters: guide registered organizations through the steps they need to follow to be fully compliant.
- Compliance agreements: outline areas of non-compliance and commit registered organizations to take corrective action.
- Sanctions: include financial penalties and temporary suspensions of the registered organization’s tax-receipting privileges as well as its qualified donee status.
- Revocation: is the loss of registration and the privileges that go with it. It is used in serious cases of non-compliance with the ITA.
In cases where an RJO is involved in serious non-compliance, or for repeat or multiple infractions, we may impose sanctions (that is, financial penalties or suspensions) or we may also proceed to revocation.
Sanctions may be applied as a result of an audit. The CRA’s administrative practice is to provide written reasons for any proposed sanction or decision, and to give the organization an opportunity to respond.
For a list of the sanctions that apply to RJOs, go to Penalties and suspensions for RJOs.
If an RJO's receipting privileges are suspended, it cannot issue official donation receipts for one year. While under suspension, if offered a gift, the RJO must inform the potential donor about its suspension as well as the fact that the donor cannot receive an official donation receipt at any time for a gift made during the suspension. During that period, an RJO is also not eligible to receive gifts from other qualified donees.
We may revoke the registration of an RJO if it does any of the following:
- asks for voluntary revocation
- fails to file its annual information return within 6 months after its fiscal period end
- no longer meets the requirements for registration
- fails to keep books and records that demonstrate that it continues to meet the requirements for registration, or fails to provide these to the CRA on request
- issues donation receipts that do not meet the requirements of the ITA
- accepts a gift that is given with the condition that it make a gift to another person or entity
A journalism organization that has its registration revoked no longer has qualified donee status.
An applicant journalism organization that receives a notice refusing its registration as an RJO can object to the decision by filing a notice of objection.
An RJO can also file an objection to a notice suspending its receipting privileges or proposing to revoke its registration.
The time limit for filing an objection is 90 days from the date on the notice. The objection must be in writing and provide the reasons for the objection and all the relevant facts. The objection must be filed with the CRA Appeals Branch. If the organization disagrees with the Appeals Branch’s decision, it can appeal the decision to the Federal Court of Appeal.
For more information about this process, go to Objections and appeals.
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